Crum & Forster Surplus & Specialty Division Builds a Future-Proof Foundation for Continued Innovation

How the 200-year-old insurance leader’s Surplus & Specialty Division accelerated time to market and tamed technical debt

An innovative insurance market leader

Founded in 1822, Crum & Forster is a leading property & casualty, accident & health, and specialty insurer in the United States. With over 200 years in business, the company is committed to maintaining and growing an agile and innovative culture to increase business agility and bring new ideas to market more quickly.

With that goal in mind, Bryan Brizzi, Chief Digital Officer at Crum & Forster’s Surplus & Specialty Division, was brought on two years ago. Brizzi has focused on moving the organization forward, building a technological foundation to serve the Division today, and getting the company to where it needs to go tomorrow.

“We’re not a small company,” Brizzi said. “However, we’re able to be very nimble, make decisions quickly, and pivot where we need to in order to keep growing the business.”

RegionNorth America
Use CaseBusiness Agility
Customer Since2023

Faster time-to-market

6 months

to implement a new Underwriting Bench

Quarters to weeks

Improved timeframe for making changes


Reducing technical debt while improving agility and customer satisfaction

The Surplus & Specialty team at Crum & Forster was looking to increase their business agility. Brizzi’s goal was to help people overcome technology roadblocks that had crept in over the years.

“The team mentioned that projects and enhancements used to roll out quickly but then started moving slower. Many things can slow a business down, and tech is one of them — especially monolithic applications,” Brizzi said. “We wanted to have the ability to be agile, to build solutions quickly, and to change things in a way so that we could adjust, too, whenever the business needed it.”

Beyond being slowed down by monolithic applications, years of technical debt and duplicate (and sometimes triplicate) solutions added bloat, making it difficult to quickly build new solutions while reacting faster to changing needs and taking advantage of new opportunities.

“My guiding principle was to eliminate this bloat and to leverage a market-leading tool and just use one of them,” said Brizzi.

With these challenges in mind, Brizzi began developing an API strategy and exploring what the Surplus & Specialty Division might need in an API management platform.


Moving to microservices and API-driven architecture

Brizzi knew moving to microservices wasn’t something that could be done overnight, but he wanted to begin putting the pieces in place to start building a microservices and API-driven architecture. That’s when he discovered Kong.

“The Kong deal was the first that I signed because I knew it was so important to lay down a strong foundation and to have an API strategy in place,” Brizzi said. “We’ve started chiseling away at various monolithic applications. And we’ve made great progress. We’ve added a significant number of APIs and allowed ourselves greater agility.”

With Kong in place, the Surplus & Specialty Division was able to embark on innovative projects and abstract away legacy systems behind reusable, governed APIs.

Now, Kong Konnect is the control plane for the entire technology ecosystem at Crum & Forster’s Surplus & Specialty Division. It provides centralized governance, security, and traffic control across valuable integrations with partners, data providers, and public cloud services.

And with an API-first foundation cemented, the potential for frictionless innovation can be realized.

A tried and trusted and performant solution

When selecting an API management platform, Brizzi was looking for a high-performing and market-leading solution that was cloud-agnostic with straightforward pricing. 

As an API management leader with substantial production deployments across highly regulated industries, Kong provided credibility and trust.

Straightforward pricing

When exploring various solutions, Brizzi found that many vendors had unnecessarily complex pricing models.

“I’m an IT person, and I was even getting confused about the complexity around some of the licensing agreements,” Brizzi said. “Working with Kong, I could see what it was with a very straight pricing based on the number of services.”

Avoiding vendor lock-in

Another reason Brizzi said he selected Kong was that it was independent of specific cloud providers and helped keep his team from being locked into a particular vendor. “Kong gives me flexibility in my cloud strategy," he said. "If we want to explore a different provider, I can do that without having to think about all the work I'm going to do to refactor all of my APIs.”


More agility, less complexity

With the implementation of Kong Konnect, Crum & Forster’s Surplus & Specialty Division has realized a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Increased business agility

  • Reduced complexity and greater developer productivity

  • Enhanced security, governance, and observability

  • Improved customer and partner satisfaction

  • Accelerated time to new product

  • A future-proof foundation for new opportunities

“Kong Konnect provides the ability to build and administer a secure organization. It gave me everything that I was looking for in a product that I felt could be a foundational piece of my technology ecosystem. Also, from a technical side, Kong Konnect is high-performing and fast."

Bryan Brizzi
Chief Digital Officer, Crum & Forster, Surplus & Specialty Division

Increased business agility

Before implementing Kong Konnect, when there were changes needed, Brizzi’s team was often unable to accommodate them in a timely manner due to slow down from technical debt.

“Now, using Kong Konnect, it's a material change. Because we can implement needed changes in weeks versus in a quarter, it allows us to be that much more reactive. That's the benefit that the business is seeing,” Brizzi said. “The sentiment towards my department and our function has changed greatly, and in a very positive way.”

Reduced complexity and greater developer productivity

Brizzi said one of the areas his team has seen the biggest impact with Kong is agility, but also the ability to organize their world in a way that removes complexity from the environment. 

“Prior to Kong, we had many different ways of interacting with any one system, and everyone would call the system directly through another. Now that it’s simplified, I could bring in a new developer and they could see a developer portal and take a look at all the APIs that are available to them. They know all the tools that they have to interact with and how to connect with the different systems. It has simplified our overall architecture and ecosystem. And that means speed and reducing risk and complexity. We’re heading in the right direction.”

Enhanced security, governance, and observability

“Kong gives me visibility in my ecosystem to say, ‘Who's going where? Who's using what data? Who's calling what?’ That kind of visibility gives me confidence that I know what's happening inside my ecosystem,” Brizzi said. “The same API can come in through different channels, and we can throttle who's coming in — ensure they have the correct certificates, and set other policies for security and governance. And the beauty is that it’s just one code base and one development team who manages that. Kong is delivering a reduction in complexity for the entire ecosystem.”

Accelerated time to new product

In 2023, Crum & Forester’s Surplus & Specialty Division introduced the S&S Underwriting Platform (S&S UP) – an underwriting workbench solution in the Excess & Surplus (E&S) insurance sector. This platform represents a significant leap in underwriting technology – integrating workflow management, risk data collection, and underwriting processes into a cohesive system. The innovation was driven by the pressing need to enhance operational efficiency, improve risk assessment accuracy, and expedite the underwriting process in a market known for its complexity and rapid evolution.

One of the platform's standout features is its ability to consolidate all necessary underwriting tools into one system. This integration eliminates the need for underwriters to toggle between multiple applications, significantly reducing processing times and enhancing overall productivity. Furthermore, the platform incorporates advanced data analytics capabilities, enabling underwriters to make more informed decisions based on comprehensive risk assessments. 

“With the S&S UP underwriting workbench, we were able to deliver something on a really fast timeline. We started putting fingers to keyboards and developing sprints in the middle of June, and we were able to go live with our first product in December,” Brizzi said. “It was a fast acceleration — a fast time to a new product. Now we're looking to get even faster. And that would not have been possible if we didn't have Kong fully in place.”

A future-proof foundation for new opportunities

“For years, there have been questions and challenges with how agencies and carriers interact with each other. But we’re starting to see more and more conversations where these agencies want to interact with us through APIs. And we're ready for them.”

What's Next

“The point we want to get to — and are getting to — is that if the business needs something, we can react just as quickly as they're thinking it. We can be right alongside of them. I never want our technical infrastructure to be an inhibitor to progress,” Brizzi said.

Brizzi points to the underwriting workbench as an example of his team moving faster and driving API reuse to build products faster and improve interactions with the company’s broker community.

“Next, we plan to turn the underwriting workbench into a headless policy administration system. This allows all of our policies to live in this underwriting workbench,” Brizzi said. “The foundation we’ve built with Kong means we can put our technical debt in a corner and put a box around it — because we can interact with our monolithic systems through APIs. This allows us to deal with our technical debt in the timeframe that I want to deal with it.”

“Engaging Kong was absolutely the right call because we’re already seeing our investment pay off. There are many new projects and opportunities that we’re ready to take on as a result of Kong’s integration.”

Bryan Brizzi
Chief Digital Officer, Crum & Forster, Surplus & Specialty Division

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